Category Archives: Michael Chertoff

>How’s That For A Nashville Welcome

>I heard through that most reliable of gossip mills–the supermarket–that Cher has moved to Nashville. Don’t know if that’s true or not, but she was definitely harassed here this week, in what has to be strangest stalking incident I’ve ever read:

Cher harassed at Nashville club, man is arrested

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) – A Nashville man has been charged with disorderly conduct and public intoxication after he repeatedly harassed Cher at the famed honky-tonk Tootsies Orchid Lounge.

Police say 36-year-old Calvin Hutton Houghland tried to make contact with Cher early Wednesday morning and was asked to leave the club. He complied, police said, but returned a short time later and grabbed Cher by the waist as the singer-actress sat in a roped-off area of the lounge.

Houghland was escorted from the bar, but returned again. When security blocked his attempts to approach the singer, Houghland called police to say he’d been assaulted.

Police say Cher declined to prosecute but Houghland asked to be arrested.

Houghland failed a self-requested field sobriety test. His bond was set at $3,000.

I’m wondering if this “self-requested” stuff is police blotter snark, and thinking the exchange went something like this:

Cops: Sir, how much have you been drinking?

Houghland: You callin’ me drunk? I ain’t drunk! I just want to meet the lady! Give me a breath test, I’ll prove it!

Cops: Sir, you’re going to have to leave the premises right now, or we’ll arrest you.

Houghland: Fine! Arrest me! See if I care!

Of course, this is all just the fertile imagination of a writer who should be working on her project due Saturday.

As for Cher moving to Nashville, well, if it’s true, she joins a growing list of entertainers that call this town home. Welcome one and all.


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Filed under celebrity news, Michael Chertoff, Nashville

>What Would Thomas Jefferson Say? (Or for that matter Ben Franklin?)

>Something about folks who trade liberty for security deserve neither, I suspect. At least, that’s what I thought when I read about the unlimited, unilateral power the GOP-led Congress gave Michael Chertoff in 2005 to build a border fence:

Last week, Mr. Chertoff issued waivers suspending more than 30 laws he said could interfere with “the expeditious construction of barriers” in Arizona, California, New Mexico and Texas. The list included laws protecting the environment, endangered species, migratory birds, the bald eagle, antiquities, farms, deserts, forests, Native American graves and religious freedom.

The secretary of homeland security was granted the power in 2005 to void any federal law that might interfere with fence building on the border. For good measure, Congress forbade the courts to second-guess the secretary’s determinations. So long as Mr. Chertoff is willing to say it is necessary to void a given law, his word is final.

The delegation of power to Mr. Chertoff is unprecedented, according to a report from the Congressional Research Service. It is also, if papers filed in the Supreme Court last month are correct, unconstitutional.

I know conservatives think environmental laws are quaint little things that look nice but should be dispensed with as soon as they become inconvenient to the greater goal of making money. But what about other laws Chertoff can suspend?

“It is only happenchance that the secretary’s waiver in this case involved laws protecting the environment and historic resources,” the groups told Judge Ellen Segal Huvelle of Federal District Court in Washington. “He could equally have waived the requirements of the Fair Labor Relations Act to halt a strike, or the provisions of the Occupational Safety and Health Act in order to force workers to endure unsafe working conditions.”

This is the GOP Congress’ idea of “protecting” us? To voluntarily surrender its authority to someone else–in this case, Michael Chertoff? To abdicate its oversight responsibility and forbid the courts from hearing challenges? To, in effect, completely muzzle the voice of the people?

This is how the GOP Congress “protects” us?

Proof yet again that these people should not be allowed near the reins of power ever again. Because look what they did with it: they handed it over to Michael Chertoff: a man who was never even elected to any office.

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Filed under border fence, Michael Chertoff

>Atrios, Is It Time For A Blogger Ethics Panel?

>Watching CNN’s coverage of the whole Alberto Gonzalez thing just now, I heard CNN Senior Legal Analyst Jeffrey Toobin casually mention that he once interned for Dept. of Homeland Security chief Michael Chertoff, back when Chertoff was a prosecutor.

I did not know this.

I’m waiting for CNN to post this morning’s transcript, and will link to it when they do. In the meantime, I’m thinking it would have been nice of Toobin to mention this back when he interviewed Michael Chertoff about the UK terror bombings and illegal immigration on July 1. But I see no mention of that.

Toobin might also have mentioned it during the Samuel Alito confirmation hearings, when he incorrectly claimed that a then-judge Chertoff ruled with Alito that it was OK to strip-search a 10-year-old girl in Doe v Groody. In fact, Chertoff wrote the majority opinion in this case, that the strip-search violated the Fourth Amendment.

However, his history with “Mike” did come up on a January 11, 2005 appearance on Paula Zahn’s show:


ZAHN: I don’t know if this will make you feel really old or really young, but the fact that you were actually interned for Michael Chertoff at one time, what were your impressions?

TOOBIN: It was 1986. It was a summer job for me. And he was in charge at a young age of the famous commission case, which was the prosecution of the heads of the five families who ran the Mafia in New York City. And Paula, I’ve got to tell you, I don’t think it was just because I was a naive young law school graduate, Mike Chertoff is just about the smartest lawyer I have ever encountered. The guy is just absolutely superb.

ZAHN: But in spite of how smart he is, you heard a number of people in Jeanne Meserve’s piece saying, smart is one thing, this is a guy who doesn’t have a resume to suggest he could actually run a bureaucracy as unwieldy as this department is.

TOOBIN: Well, I think if you had told me a year ago that Mike Chertoff would wind up attorney general of the United States, I’d say, of course, that makes a lot of sense. That seems to be how his career has been pointed. Homeland security is completely new. In fairness to Mike, and I suppose anyone, it’s not clear that anyone can run this department, given its vast size. But most of Mike’s career has been as a lawyer, a judge, and a little bit as an administrator, and now, it’s mostly an administrative function, as you point out.

ZAHN: And it seems to me the president was sending a clear signal, given the fact that this man has been confirmed three times so far by the Senate, he views this as almost a sure shot.

Is that the way you look at it?

TOOBIN: II think it is. You know, The only person voted against him consistently as attorney general and as a judge is Hillary Clinton, who, of course, was the subject in large a part of Mike Chertoff’s Whitewater investigation. Which was, I think it’s fair to say, not a high point of Chertoff’s career. That was Al D’Amato’s investigation in the Senate, which really didn’t go anywhere. It made — it made Mike some very good connections in the Republican Party and his career has flourished. But I don’t think that was particular success of his.

ZAHN: But I wouldn’t say that was a real high point from him. You can’t blame it all on Al D’Amato. What share of the blame does he take for the tone of that investigation?

TOOBIN: I think, you know, when I’ve spoken to him about it, he sort of screws up his courage and says, well we did the best we could. I think he’s a lot more comfortable. He — I did a profile of him for the “New Yorker” when he was head of the criminal division. And that was job he really loved. He was in charge not only of the post 9/11 investigations but all of the post Enron white collar investigations. Chertoff did the Arthur Andersen case. He was basically single handedly responsible for putting Arthur Anderson out of business. Now, you can argue whether that’s a good thing or bad thing, but that’s the world he has so far been much more comfortable with, much more than politics and Whitewater or homeland security where he has next to no experience.

I’m sure if Michael Chertoff does become the new Attorney General (and that’s a big if, of course), Jeffrey Toobin will recuse himself from covering the AG’s office.

Ha. Good one, I know.

[UPDATE]: The CNN Transcript is up:

TOOBIN: Well, I have to confess a certain bias about Michael Chertoff. In the summer of 1986, right after I graduated from law school, I was Michael Chertoff’s intern in the U.S. attorney’s office in Manhattan. And you know, I’ve known Mike for a very long time. He was a wonderful prosecutor.

Again, I did not know this.

[UPDATE 2]: CNN reporting Chertoff will replace Gonzalez and Clay Johnson will replace Chertoff. (h/t, NiT).

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Filed under CNN, Jeffrey Toobin, Michael Chertoff



via Flying Junior in comments, Committee on Homeland Security Committee Chairman Bennie G. Thompson wonders:

What color code in the Homeland Security Advisory System is associated with a “gut feeling?” What sectors should be on alert as a result of your “gut feeling?” What cities should be asking their law enforcement to work double shifts because of your “gut feeling?” Are the American people supposed to purchase duct tape and plastic sheeting because of your “gut feeling?”

I have a gut feeling Michael Chertoff is full of shit.

The Homeland Security chief may have a hunch that terrorists are gonna attack this summer, but I’d like to think the people responsible for protecting us are using more than guesswork.

You know, liberals have been saying from the beginnning that Bush’s war misadventure has made America less safe, that we’ve created a whole new generation of people who hate us for what we’ve done in Iraq, that Al Qaeda is using Iraq to train terrorists, and that this whole “they’ll follow us home” argument against troop withdrawal is just stupid since, guess what folks, they have maps there and they know where America is.

So, I’ve got a gut feeling we’re going to be attacked, too. Maybe not this summer. Maybe not this year, or even this decade. But it’s silly and childish to think it’s not going to happen at all.

But I also have more than a gut feeling that the Bush Administration uses these terrorist threats to manipulate and distract the public. After all, back in 2005 Tom Ridge told us so. And when something as abstract as Michael Chertoff’s “gut feeling” takes the place of real news, I have to wonder what’s up. You gotta wonder: what else is going on now that the Administration might not want us talking about? The Iraq War? A DoJ scandal? Administration officials refusing to testify before Congress? Scooter Libby’s free bird waltz? A “family values” Republican in the D.C. madam client list?

It boggles the mind that the people who are supposed to protect us are playing fast and loose with American fears about our security. It’s unconscionable.

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Filed under Homeland Security, Michael Chertoff, terror alerts